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Question 9:
How can my school or district establish structures that encourage literacy across the content areas?


In order to foster language and literacy development in all disciplines and for all children and youth, school and district administrators should focus intensively on fostering a culture of learning among all educators where shared responsibility, collective leadership, and continuous reflection are the norm. This collaboration may necessitate refining the ways in which teachers work together to optimize an integrated approach to teaching and learning.

All educators play a role in ensuring that students gain the literacy skills necessary for successful interactions with content. The California Common Core State Standards (CA CCSS) provide a unique opportunity for English language arts (ELA) teachers, English language development (ELD) teachers, content area teachers, specialists, and teacher librarians to develop collegial partnerships as they learn new standards and plan their implementation. School leaders need to foster a collaborative learning culture that supports all teachers in this process and leads their learning and development of new curricular and instructional approaches. Various structures can be used to organize these collaborations—Instructional Rounds, Professional Learning Communities, Critical Friends, Inquiry Circles, and more. Regardless of the structure, teachers, specialists, support staff, and instructional leaders should work together to regularly examine student data, evaluate student writing, review a variety of student work, create common assessments, and plan lessons and any necessary interventions. Teachers and specialists should also consider opportunities to teach together, or co-teach, to maximize learning opportunities for students.

As instructional leaders think about establishing structures that encourage literacy across the content areas, there are several resources and tools available to consider, but the most comprehensive and widely vetted resource available to California educators is the State Board of Education-adopted ELA/ELD Framework. With this in mind, this section will focus on helping instructional leaders answer the question above using guidance from the framework, viewing a video of multiple panels of instructional leaders discussing the question, and considering what all of this means for their work and local context.

Connections to the California Professional Standards for Education Leaders (CPSEL)


Education leaders facilitate the development and implementation of a shared vision of learning and growth of all students.
Element 1A: Student-Centered Vision
Leaders shape a collective vision that uses multiple measures of data and focuses on equitable access, opportunities, and outcomes for all students.
Example Indicators:
1A-1 Advance support for the academic, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, behavioral, and physical development of each learner.
1A-2 Cultivate multiple learning opportunities and support systems that build on student assets and address student needs.
1A-3 Address achievement and opportunity disparities between student groups, with attention to those with special needs; cultural, racial, and linguistic differences; and disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
1A-4 Emphasize the expectation that all students will meet content and performance standards.


Education leaders shape a collaborative culture of teaching and learning, informed by professional standards and focused on student and professional growth.
Element 2B: Curriculum and Instruction
Leaders guide and support the implementation of standards-based curriculum, instruction, and assessments that address student expectations and outcomes.
Example Indicators:
2B-1 Develop a shared understanding of adopted standards-based curriculum that reflects student content and performance expectations.
2B-2 Promote and monitor the use of state frameworks and guides that offer evidence-based instructional and support strategies to increase learning for diverse student assets and needs.
2B-3 Provide access to a variety of resources that are needed for the effective instruction and differentiated support of all students.
2B-4 Guide and monitor the alignment of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional practice.

Before you begin…

Prior to focusing on the question above, participants in this activity should be familiar with the following chapters and implementation resources of the ELA/ELD Framework:

  • Appendix A: Role of Literature in the Common Core State Standards (PDF)
  • Chart of ELA/ELD Framework Snapshots and Vignettes (PDF)
    Brief snapshots and longer vignettes are included throughout the ELA/ELD Framework to provide examples of instruction. This chart lists all the snapshots and vignettes, by chapter, and includes the grade level, page numbers, and indicates the different content areas each snapshot and vignette addresses. (Note: In the items column, “S” stands for a snapshot, and “V” represents vignettes.)
    • ELA/ELD Framework Snapshots – Chapters 3–7 (PDF)
      These snapshots are examples of instructional strategies for transitional kindergarten through grades eleven and twelve in ELA, ELD, and other content areas. All the framework snapshots, by chapter and grade-level, for chapters 3–7 are compiled into this document.
    • ELA/ELD Framework Vignettes – Chapters 3–7 (PDF; 2MB)
      Two vignettes are provided for each grade level (for TK to grade 8) and grade span (grades 9–10 and 11–12). These vignettes offer more in-depth examples of classroom practices, including connections to other disciplines and scaffolding for modifications for all students, including instruction for integrated and designated ELD. All vignettes, by chapter and grade-level, for chapters 3–7 are compiled into this document.

On the next page, you will find a video that features multiple groups of instructional leaders from across the state. A Note-taking Guide (DOC) is provided to help you consider the perspectives shared in the video. You may want to review it before watching the video and print it or have it open on your desktop to have in front of you while you watch.